My Past Academic Writings 4: To what extent is nuclear energy a suitable alternative for Singapore to meet her energy needs?

So, I have decided to showcase some of my past, not so well-done academic writings that I have done in my 2 years in Junior College. They are not the best, but these are definitely pieces which I have placed my hard work, sweat and blood into. And I most definitely welcome discussions!

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With the pursuit of long run sustainable development in the minds of many governmental organisations in the 21st century, one unanimous problem often appears in the minds of these groups of people. The problem of the increasing demand for energy brought about by the booming population of humans around the world has since burdened many countries. Singapore, a land scarce island with a growing population, faces the similar dilemma. Over the years, as technology becomes more advanced, more methods to generate energy have since surfaced. One of which is the conversion of wind energy to electrical energy via wind turbines, another is the manipulation of solar energy to generate heat via solar heat cells. Then, there is this particular form of production that has since received much controversy – Nuclear Energy. Some deem it pernicious but there are others who deem it beneficial. Regardless the case, Singapore seems to be intending to pursue Nuclear Energy, and ultimately will it be a more suitable alternative to meet her energy needs? I doubt so.

First and foremost, it would be unwise to set up a nuclear plant in Singapore as Singapore has a relatively small land space and a very dense population. Comparing to other countries with nuclear plants, such as Japan and Northern Ukraine, there is no suitable land available for the construction of a nuclear plant as much of her priority involves satisfying and meeting the needs of the growing population. And even though, there are talks and discussions by the government to construct one on inhabited area – the sea, it would definitely pose as a problem to neighbouring countries should a disaster occurs. This may potentially harm international relationships. Accidents in nuclear plants are not unheard of, from the Chernobyl disaster in Northern Ukraine (1986) to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan (2011), which resulted in the exposure of people to radiation. Despite the fact that there is a need to search for other alternative sources of energy for sustenance, it is not suitable for Singapore to adopt nuclear energy to meet her energy needs as she has a relatively small land size and a dense population.

On the other hand, proponents may argue that global warming brought about by increasing carbon emission is imminent. According to a study conducted by the World Health Organisation in 2013, carbon emissions around the world have since tripled as compared to twenty years ago. Possible implication of high carbon emission over the decades will result in an increase in temperature causing the rise in sea levels, due to the melting of poles. Hence, adopting nuclear energy procedures would be the most ideal solution to firstly, reduce carbon dioxide emission and secondly, produce sufficient energy. While I agree that there are intangible benefits to using nuclear energy as a source of energy, it is however too presumptuous to only look at one side of the coin. With regards to increasing carbon emission around the world, it would be impossible to tackle the issue in the short run. Should a nuclear plant be constructed, the issue of high carbon emission will still exist for the construction of a nuclear plant may take 10 – 19 years to set up, from planning to operational. This may inherently result in a budget deficit incurring in Singapore, for the set-up costs may be too expensive. As such, it would not be suitable for Singapore to build a nuclear plant to meet the energy needs and curb with the problem of high carbon emission.

SV: Secondly, the presence of other alternative sources of energy can replace the harnessing of nuclear energy and at the same time meet Singapore’s growing demand for energy. Such sources include solar energy or wind energy. These energies are renewable and can never run out. Such abundance of supply can only mean a cheaper alternative resource for Singapore to tap on for future usage. Singapore, being located near the Equator, is exposed to vast amount of sunlight yearly; it is hence rational to make use of such advantage to construct solar cells to convert solar energy to electrical energy. Furthermore, the construction of facilities, required to harness the renewable sources of energy, occupies significantly lesser space as compared to nuclear plants. Having mentioned that Singapore is a land scarce country, the land saved can be used to serve for other nation-building purposes. Lastly, the time taken to set up the equipment to harness the renewable sources of energy is significantly lesser than that of nuclear plants. Analysis by the American Nuclear Society states that the construction of wind or solar facilities can take about 2 -5 years to set up. Therefore, considering the vast amount of advantages such alternative sources of energy can provide, Singapore should tap on the renewable sources of energy and not utilize nuclear energy to meet her energy needs.

However, proponents of my arguments may state that the overall benefits garnered from utilising nuclear energy ultimately outweighs the costs, hence it should be used for Singapore to meet her energy needs. Such benefits include, aiding nuclear disarmament as the production of nuclear energy makes use of materials found in current nuclear weapons. While I agree that there are indeed some potent benefits, it is however ignorant to not consider that in the pursuit for nuclear energy, the sanctity of human life may be violated. The production of nuclear energy produces nuclear wastes, which contains a small amount of radioactivity. Even though these wastes are visible and can be contained, the disposal may prove to be difficult in land scarce Singapore. Disposal of wastes may take some time. Long term exposure of radiation can cause people to suffer from afflictions, such as cancer, birth defects and genetic mutation. Drawing back to the Chernobyl Disaster, radiation exposure has resulted in more than 7 million people living in contaminated territory.  Very evidently, people’s lives will be put at risk. Hence, it may not be suitable for Singapore to harvest nuclear energy to meet her energy needs.

In conclusion, despite having its perks, nuclear energy is not a viable alternative for Singapore to utilise to satisfy her energy demands. Nonetheless, we cannot turn a blind eye to the possible benefits nuclear energy can bring to us, and I believe that more research should be made to seek other possible methods of energy production or perhaps implement safer methods of harvesting of nuclear energy. Otherwise, it is unwise for Singapore to tap into nuclear energy as a source of energy to meet her energy needs.

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